Thursday 11 August 2016

Why there is no silver bullet for Knowledge Management

There is no silver bullet for Knowledge Management, because KM is a management system with many component parts, all of which need to be in place. 

We often hear vendors promising us a KM silver bullet - usually some sort of technology. "Buy our search engine/Collaboration software/enterprise social platform and your KM problems will be solved.

But it doesn't work.

Knowledge Management requires more than technology, it needs the four enablers of
All of these elements are mutually supportive. There is no point in introducing one of them (collaboration tools, for example) without addressing the others as well.

Also many of the promised solver bullets cover only one aspect of Knowledge Management, such as searching, or allowing conversation. However there is no point in searching for knowledge, without addressing the possibility that the knowledge is still tacit and can only be accessed through conversation. Also there is no point in conversation if the knowledge needed lies beyond the memories of individuals, and is documented somewhere, waiting to be found.

The roles, processes, technologies and governance also need to address:

Knowledge Management is a system, with a framework of components.  Sometimes there are sub-components of KM that add value on their own for a limited time  - Peer Assists, for example, COmmunities of Practice and Lesson Learning - but eventually even these whould be incorporated into a system.

In most organisations therefore, introducing Knowledge Management is not a case of introducing one component - one silver bullet.  It is a case of introducing a system - a new way of working, and a new way of thinking.

Think System, not Bullet. 

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